Prospect Need to Know: Kings’ ransom of kids

Los Angeles is picking up college prospects and seeing its draft picks do big things in the CHL playoffs. Find out about them and more in our weekly roundup

The first round of the major junior playoffs are nearly complete and it’s been a wild ride already. The OHL is actually set for Round 2 and I have to give a shout-out to the Sarnia Sting for winning their first playoff series in a decade (and just their second in 20 years). Elsewhere, the Memorial Cup hosts from Regina have been knocked out in the first round. This is happening a lot lately and there’s not much that can be done, so let’s hope the Pats take advantage of their extended break. In NCAA news, Bob Motzko is the new coach of the University of Minnesota. The erstwhile St. Cloud State coach had great success with the Huskies and led Team USA to gold at the 2017 world juniors. He’s a fun coach to talk to, so Gophers fans should be excited. With that in mind, let’s take a whirl around the world of prospects.


Gabe Vilardi, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL): Vilardi, the Los Angeles Kings first-rounder, came to Kingston from Windsor, where he helped the Spitfires win the Memorial Cup last season. He’s been even better in the playoffs this time, using his deadly release to score the triple-OT series winner against North Bay and accumulating 12 points in five games. NHL arrival: 2019-20


Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (Fin.): It’s incredible, but the teenaged Heiskanen is leading the entire Finnish Liiga in ice time during the playoffs. The Dallas Stars first-rounder has HIFK through to the semifinal and with five points through six games, the mobile blueliner is contributing at both ends of the ice. NHL arrival: 2018-19


Daniel Brickley, D, Minnesota State Mavericks (WCHA): The top college free agent on the market chose Los Angeles as his destination and the Kings are getting some nice potential here (they also nabbed Clarkson scorer Sheldon Rempal). Brickley is 6-foot-3, mobile, and plays a two-way game. He has NHL bloodlines thanks to uncle Andy and cousin Connor, and he’s a lot stronger than when he arrived in Mankato. NHL arrival: 2018-19


Alexis Gravel, G, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL): On a team laced with 2018 draft prospects, Gravel is making his case in the playoffs. The big, athletic netminder is rocking a .944 save percentage and 1.81 goals-against average in the post-season, helping the Mooseheads push past Baie-Comeau in five games. NHL arrival: 2022-23


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Jack Drury, C, Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL): One of the top scorers in the league, Drury has put up excellent numbers in his draft year and is hot as the playoffs approach. The Harvard commit has nine points in his past six games, using his offensive skill and willingness to go to the tough areas to create offense. He’s the son of former NHLer Ted Drury. NHL arrival: 2021-22


Andrew Sturtz, RW, Penn State Nittany Lions (Big Ten): The Ottawa Senators dipped into the college free agent pool by signing Sturtz, a nasty, competitive playmaker who is stronger than his 5-foot-8, 185-pound measurements would indicate. The Penn State winger was a point-per-gamer for the Nittany Lions as a junior. NHL arrival: 2019-20


Stuart Skinner, G, Swift Current Broncos (WHL): It’s not really an upset because the Broncos were the higher seed, but in beating the Memorial Cup host Regina Pats, Swift Current met a nice challenge. Skinner, the Edmonton Oilers pick, was solid in the series. He’s big and fundamentally sound, so the future is bright. NHL arrival: 2021-22


Ilya Sorokin, G, CSKA Moscow (KHL): The Red Army is in tight against St. Petersburg in the Western final, but they’ve been able to count on Sorokin a lot during this playoff run. The New York Islanders pick has thrown up five shutouts in 13 appearances, leading to a .950 save percentage and 1.88 goals-against average. Patience, Isles fans, patience. NHL arrival: 2020-21


Mathieu Joseph, RW, Syracuse Crunch (AHL): The AHL rookie of the month, Joseph had 15 points in 12 games for March. The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect brings a great combination of grit and skill to the lineup and currently sits third in freshman scoring amongst all AHLers. NHL arrival: 2019-20


Adam Ginning, D, Linkoping (SHL): His SHL season may have ended, but Ginning will get some bonus hockey before the world under-18s. The big defensive defenseman and 2018 draft prospect will play in a pair of games against Slovakia this week, along with fellow draft hopefuls Adam Boqvist and Olof Lindbom (the rest of the squad is older). NHL arrival: 2020-21